A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW: Peter and Alice
Jacksonville’s Self Produced Theatre is staging a four-performance run (August 23-24 and 30-31, with an 8:00 pm curtain) of John Logan’s Peter and Alice at St. Nicholas Park Christian Church, located at 3226 Beach Boulevard. For additional information and tickets, see their Facebook page, visit selfproducedtheatre.com, or call 904-800-8568.
The production is a timely play for Jacksonville theater fans, due to the popularity of two related plays recently staged locally: Alice in Wonderland at ABET and Peter Pan at Theatre Jacksonville. Playwright and screenwriter John Logan, known for his James Bond films and author of the award-wining play Red (seven Tonys), has created a dramatization of a real-life encounter between two famous people: the meeting of Alice Liddell Hargreaves and Peter Llewelyn Davies in 1932 in a London bookstore. While Alice, born in 1852, was much older than Peter, who was born in 1887, they had one thing in common: a childhood immortalized in literature. She had been the model and inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, he was J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.
During their encounter, they exchange recollections and memories of their experiences with these famous commercially successful writers who had molded their lives. And they talked about personal tragedies. Peter’s parents both died of cancer, and Barrie became his guardian; Peter was uncomfortable with his controlling guidance. While Peter eventually married and had children, he was troubled throughout his life by his identification as the “Original Peter Pan.”
The Liddell family’s relationship with Lewis Carol ended abruptly after several years for undisclosed reasons, and his letters to Alice were burned by her mother. Alice later married a cricketer, and had three children and a happy domestic and social life. However, after her husband’s death, she had financial problems and had to sell a valuable hand-written copy of Alice to pay for heating fuel, an action she regretted.
The leading roles were superbly portrayed by Austin Kelley as Peter and Anne Kraft as Alice. Kelley will be attending Florida School of the Arts this fall. We have previously seen him in two excellent comic roles, as the Goat in ABET’s The Robber Bridegroom and as Duke in Players by the Sea’s The Great American Trailer Park Musical. As Peter, we can empathize with the lingering effects of his troubled background.
Anne Kraft’s theatre experience could fill an entire page. She is a St. Augustine native who spent thirty years in New York theatres before returning home in 1992 and co-founding the Limelight Theatre. After retirement in 2006, she became associated with St. Augustine’s A Classic Theatre as an actress and director. She successfully toured with Joan Didion’s one-woman play The Year of Magical Thinking. She was selected as Theatre Jacksonville’s Best Actress for her role as Blanche in Streetcar Named Desire. And she is magnificent as Alice Liddell.
Other characters come to life with splendor. Bryan Martins, a notably versatile actor, appears as Lewis Carrol, then doubles back as Arthur Davies and Reginald Hargreaves. We have seen him in previous appearances as a grasshopper in James and the Giant Peach and as Roger/Garry in Noises Off!
Jonathon Yates is very believable as the Scotch writer James Barrie. His previous stage roles have included characters with English accents.
Arianna Rodriquez makes her debut with this theatre, dressed in green as a lively (and interactive) Peter Pan. Lauren Lehosky is dressed as the classic fictional Alice, and is perfect for the role. She will be starting her junior year in at Long Island University in the fall.
This intriguing evening of theatre was directed by Tyler Lewis, founder and Artistic Director of Self Produced Theatre. He also an actor and appeared in a cameo role as Michael Llewelyn Davies.
Rhonda Fisher, an actress and stage manager for many local shows, is also a fine dialect coach and her successful work added depth to the characters in this production.
Samantha Corbitt, a Jacksonville native, was the stage manager. She is a Douglas Anderson School of the Arts graduate, and also a law school graduate who recently passed the Florida Bar Exam!
When you go see the play, take a close look at the program, which includes two pages of vintage photos and excellent bios and photos of the cast and crew. Kelby Siddons created the graphic design.
Don’t miss this unique play and the fantastic interplay between the grown-up Alice and Peter.
Next up for Self Produced Theatre, with time and place to be announced, Facing East, by Carol Lynn Pearson. We’re looking forward to it.